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WE'RE GIVING CROWE’S ALOHA A CHANCE

We approach the release of each Cameron Crowe film with more than a passing interest for a number of reasons, including his background as a rock journalist, his subject matter (Almost Famous in particular) and his deft use of music. It’s been a while since Crowe’s last moneymaker, and it appears that Aloha, which opens today, is doomed from the get-go by what L.A. Times reviewer Mark Olsen calls its “bummer buzz,” due in part to WikiLeaks revelations of badmouthing from Sony Pictures execs.

But none of that will stop us from seeing Aloha this weekend, buoyed by the attraction of an ensemble cast featuring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdam, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin, and by mixed but still tantalizing reviews in The New York Times and L.A. Times that do the opposite of damning with faint praise.

In the former, A.O. Scott begins his critique with a statement we can easily relate to. “Let me say right up front that I will always root for Cameron Crowe. That’s the kind of blunt, sincere, slightly inappropriate statement one of his characters might blurt out at an odd moment, and so much the better. He had me at the Fast Times at Ridgemont High script, and I’m probably not the only self-conscious, music-crazed guy of my generation who found possible alternate selves in Crowe’s alter egos: Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, William Miller in Almost Famous and even Jerry Maguire himself.”

Scott’s falls short of endorsing Aloha, but he notes that “Crowe’s loose and leisurely film can be enjoyed the way you enjoy a catch-up beer with an old friend you don’t have much in common with anymore.”

Olsen, who’s more positive, sums up the film’s pros and cons thusly: “With its unguarded emotions and romantic earnestness, Aloha may simply be a movie not for this moment, its pre-release bad luck run a sign of some core disconnect. Best to see Aloha as a messy, imperfect movie about messy, imperfect people, a film of moments and fleeting flashes that may not entirely add up but that are delightful on their own.”

The same could be said for the soundtrack album, on Vinyl Films/Madison Gate/Legacy, a schizoid affair that pairs a half dozen Hawaiian pop tunes with more typically Crowe-like fare from Fleetwood Mac, David Crosby, Hall & Oates, The Blue Nile, Beck, Kurt Vile and a sampling of up-to-the-minute acts including The Tallest Man on Earth. As to whether the soundtrack works as a whole, we’d need to play it on a Maui beach to know for sure, but the second half functions nicely as a playlist for a late-spring Sunday morning in L.A. 

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